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OPINION

Making bedrooms free of television

Syed Tashfin Chowdhury | January 12, 2019 00:00:00


The two decades between 1990 and 2010 saw most middle and upper income families in Dhaka move their televisions from the drawing or dining rooms to their bedrooms. The rationale, as advanced at the time, was that bedrooms had privacy and comfort required for television viewing.

But of late this is changing again as a growing number of families are making their bedrooms free of television. This tendency can be attributed to numerous researches conducted in recent years that revealed the ways in which television's presence in the bedroom can affect health and familial bonds.

A primary finding of most studies was that presence of screens like television, tablets and smartphones etc., that are connected to the internet, can almost always tempt a user to switch on the television or browse social media platforms over the smart devices. The brightness from the screens alerts the human body of the viewer, keeping it awake at a time when it should be relaxed, before surrendering to sleep.

Such habits can disrupt sleeping patterns that can eventually affect hormonal balance and increase risks of having type 2 diabetes as well as neurological, gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders.

The more important concerns that drove most new parents to remove televisions from their bedrooms were all related to their children's present and future health.

Most of them have read the 2014-study by the Journal of the American Academy of Paediatrics which associated more TV viewing and the presence of a bedroom TV with shorter sleep duration of children from infancy to mid-childhood.

It is also evident that children who spend more time near digital devices like television, mobile phones etc. are more likely to have myopia or near-sightedness from an early age. Myopia is a condition when the eye stops refracting light properly to a single focus, making images appear blurred. Patients with high myopia are at increased risks of developing glaucoma and cataracts later in their lives.

Additionally, a 2017-study conducted in the United Kingdom had linked juvenile obesity with the presence of television in the bedrooms. Other studies conducted in Romania and France in 2016 and 2017 respectively have linked more screen-time in the daily lives of children with autism among young children and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) among older children.

There is also fear among some guardians that radiation from television and other devices can cause tumours. However, this concern is still unconfirmed by scientific research.

The presence of television in a bedroom has also been blamed for decreased communication between married couples and other members of a family.

After receiving such information over the internet or through journals, new parents mostly in their 30s and mid-20s and with babies and toddlers tend to discuss these with their peers. They want to confirm the information that they have read and understand whether similar symptoms are visible among their children as well. This leads to increased word-of-mouth that is inadvertently fuelling the trend.

Subsequently, parents with older children are limiting daily screen-time. Most parents have limited TV viewing to less than two hours on school-nights and extended it to a little over two hours on weekends for their children.

More parents should follow suit as reduced screen-time can lead to stronger bonds among family members as they are likely to give more time to each other. It can also ensure better health and productivity in workplaces or academic institutions.

A smaller segment of urban families have also gone as far as to sell off or give away their television sets entirely. Their reasons were that the presence of a television affects concentration of their children and the content of concurrent television programming are not suitable for them.

But there is a need for television, which, as a medium provides individuals with updated knowledge and information about the world and society he is a part of. If increasing the productivity and concentration of young family members is the concern, they can be encouraged to spend more time playing sports or engaging in other mentally and emotionally productive activities.

tashfinster@gmail.com


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